Israel's Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction: An empirical study

Theodore Eisenberg*, Talia Fisher, Issi Rosen-Zvi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This Essay reports the results of an empirical study of the Israel Supreme Court (ISC). It covers the outcomes of 3,562 cases (as of this writing), all decided in 2006 and 2007, and describes the cases by subject area, litigantpair characteristics, and source of jurisdiction-mandatory or discretionary. In mandatory-jurisdiction cases ending with clear affirmances or reversals, the ISC affirmed lower court rulings in about 75% of district court criminal case appeals and about 67% of district court civil case appeals. In discretionary-jurisdiction cases, the ISC rarely granted review. It agreed to review about 6% of petitions in criminal cases and about 15% of petitions in civil cases. In discretionary cases in which the ISC did grant review, it tended to reverse at a much higher rate than in mandatory-jurisdiction cases, with an affirmance rate of 55 % in criminal cases and 31 % in civil cases. Combining denials of review with affirmances resulted in criminal case litigants obtaining relief from the ISC in 2.3% of appellate filings, and civil case litigants obtaining relief in 11.0% of appellate filings. The government fared far better than other litigants in obtaining reversals of lower court rulings and in securing review of those rulings. Sentencing issues dominated the criminal docket, and criminal cases predominated over civil cases. Reversal rates were not substantially different from those in cases with analogous jurisdiction in U.S. state courts of last resort except in discretionary-jurisdiction civil cases. The ISC tended to reverse such cases at a higher rate than U.S. courts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-725
Number of pages33
JournalCornell Law Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2011


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